Tag Archives: wine

Some of the funny responses

Firstly, thank you all. Mike and I have been positively overwhelmed by the flood of support and well-wishing we’ve received via the blog, facebook, and email since we posted the news last week that we’re expecting a baby! We’re very touched. Your notes and emails have made us smile, share snippets with each other, and laugh.

This week is going to be a busy one for me. I’ve got a lot of work to do on two separate consultancy projects and am not quite sure where blogging will fit in during the first half of the week (not to mention pregnancy yoga and the article I’m also trying to write on expat living in Laos). So, as Mike and I are sitting here on Sunday afternoon answering some of the emails, I decided to keep track of some of the comments that have come in over the last couple of days that have made us laugh and share them with you. Because laughter is always more fun shared.

So here are just a couple of the lines that have made Mike and I giggle over the last couple of days.

“Congratulations – I am quite sure there is no “reset” button so would be best to just go with it now.”

“Lisa. That is fabulous news!!!!!!! Yea and combats to all!!!!!” [I’m assuming that this was meant to be congrats, but even if not, I think it could still be very apt]

“Congratulations – this is great news – enjoy the 6 quiet months left in your life!!!!!!”

“That’s a record. You’ve only had a puppy for 3 months surely?  He must be even cuter than a chocolate Labrador to have worked this type of magic so quickly.” [To which I replied, “He’s pretty darn cute. Then again… he’s also got a mouthful of razor sharp teeth which he is still constantly using to bite our hands, and he has recently taken to leaping on me from behind and humping my leg when I try to walk away from him and he’s in the mood to play.]

“You’ve lived through natural disasters and man-made wars–you’ll not only survive this, you’ll have even more great stories!”

“Unlike many other followers of your blog, I have no idea what it’s like to be pregnant. And to be completely honest it doesn’t sound that appealing…” [To be completely honest, so far I have to say that it’s not that appealing]

“Lisa, my experience of being pregnant was: 1st trimester – the whole world smelled terrible and most of the time I forgot how happy I was to be getting a child because I was vomiting the whole time; 2nd trimester – before I would skip meals because I was busy doing every-day work, and now I would skip everything (even important meetings at work) to go grab something to eat; 3rd trimester – This is when I needed my husband most…to lift me out of chairs. I used to walk faster than everyone on the road and now even slow-walking, elderly, people were walking faster than me. And the toilet becomes your best friend…”

“You don’t want to be a marsupial. Keeping a pouch clean sounds like a hassle to me.” [To which I replied: “We live in Asia. We can hire people to keep a pouch clean. Problem solved.”]

[This comes from someone we know who has previously lived in Laos] “Boy, some people will do anything for some R&R!  Seriously, much congratulations.  We named one of our dogs “kop chai” (thank you) I hereby give you permission to name your child “kop chai lai lai” (thank you very much).”

“Hey Mike – congratulations! Keep in mind that ‘Vinay’ would make a great name for the baby. Even if it’s a boy.” [There’s no keeping this one anonymous. Vinay is a guy Mike met during a trip to Sudan last year.]

“Congrats! Are you guys worried about health care for the birth in Laos?” [To which Mike replied, “Why yes.  So much, in fact that Lisa’s already booked her tickets to Australia.  Even middle class Lao women try not to have their babies in Laos if they can help it (most of them go to Thailand rather than say, Australia).  Yesterday we were talking to a shop keeper (talking in the sense that my Lao is very basic so I probably understood about half of what she was saying) and when I told her that we weren’t going to have the baby in Laos, she looked so relieved that you’d have thought I had given her an injection of valium. On the up side, she taught us the Lao word for “afraid.”]

“Congratulations!  What wonderful news.  Not all babies are like hand grenades.  Alex was more of a claymore mine.” [I think this takes the prize as the single line that made me laugh the hardest, and the longest.]

“Tell Lisa, hand grenade does it no justice at all. Something like seeing the roads in Afghanistan after they’ve been visited by a B52 would be more accurate but you grow to love the new landscape even more than the old.”

“While we all wait patiently for photos of the miniature Wolfey-McKay, please do post more photos of the little monkey!!” [I’ll do my best. In fact, here’s one for you now of Abu doing what I do now when confronted with a glass of wine – look at it longingly.]

To close, here’s one final quote that I love. “You are right–you and Mike will make fabulous parents. And, you are right–there is no good time to have kids and they do change your lives forever. You will never regret it. Keep us posted so we can celebrate with you!”

We will. Thanks again.

Lisa (and Mike)

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The circle of your passion

It’s been a week. For me, it’s been a week of finishing the draft, enjoying a brief high, then falling (temporarily, let’s hope) into a big black woeful hole of not feeling like doing anything at all, and wondering how we can possibly have been in Laos three months already, and whether the rumours are true that we’re staying here for the next couple of years. On that front, it appears so, unless the powers that be mandate otherwise. I’ve had ample time to mull all of this over during a string of nights when sleep eludes me until late – midnight or 1am – and sometimes only arrives after the sort of help that comes in little bottles with child-proof caps on them.

For Mike, it’s been a week of waking up early – in the 3’s or the 4’s, occasionally the 2’s – with his mind jumping ahead to the day. The biggest meetings of the year took place yesterday, and coincided with a week-long delegation of all sorts of people that be all sorts of powerful, and not all of whom arrived on the scene happy. We think they be leaving happier, we think. There was a lot of smiling and nodding at the big partnership dinner last night – then again there was also lots of beerlao, which tends to help with the smiling (but not with the sleep, no, not with that).

A couple of weeks ago Mike and I had dinner with a friend, Gabrielle, who Mike first met in the Vanuatu almost three years ago. In January we had dinner with her in Melbourne. Since then she’s moved to Hanoi. Two weeks ago she swung by our new town.

So we met at Utopia and drank Saffron Robes and cheap Chilean wine and gazed upon the Khan River and talked. We talked of things that humanitarianers often seem to talk about when they cross paths for an evening and drink and look at rivers.

  1. How and why did you decide to make this last move/take this last job?
  2. How are you finding this massive uprooting and replanting of your life?
  3. What about the job itself – where are the rewards and the pressure points?
  4. Is it worth it – this move, this job, this whole field …

There is a lot wrapped up in that last question. I could write a whole series of posts just on the different variables that come into play when trying to calculate the opportunity-cost of this work and of this lifestyle. There are issues of meaning and purpose to be considered. And efficacy, community, motivation, finances, and safety. And, of course, passion.

Gabrielle calls this sort of conversation tumbleweeding, which I think is a delightful word. It brings to mind a tangled ball of wiry stalks all intertwined – dense enough to hang together in a round yet light enough to be moved by the wind. A tumbleweed bounces and spins at the same time as it skips along. A tumbleweed goes places. (Sometimes it just goes in circles, but that too is appropriate.)

I wonder what usually happens to tumbleweeds in the end. Do they pick up so many leaves and twigs on their journey that they eventually stop moving and settle into being just a pile of sticks? Do they get snagged on bushes, never to work themselves free? Or do they break apart – thin pieces of brush skittering and sliding in every which direction?

So, passion. That was our primary focal point that night.

“Are you passionate about writing?” Gabrielle asked me.

“Sometimes I get a great day, or hour,” I said. “Those moments are incandescent. I lose track of time. Afterwards I’m tingling with that happy sort of electricity that comes when you don’t want to be anywhere else, doing anything else. I’m totally buzzed.”

“But,” I continued. “At least as often, probably more often, I sit there and it’s hard, and I struggle, and I want to be almost anywhere else, and I hate it. Except I feel compelled to do it anyway.”

“That’s passion,” Mike said.

“Huh,” I said.

Why do I primarily associate vocational passion with the electric, positive, purposeful, buzz? Wishful thinking, maybe, or is it possible to have those joyous mountaintop moments without trudging through some valleys? Are mountaintop moments over-rated, anyway? Should we really be aiming for a nice picnic blanket halfway up a pretty green slope?

And, if what we were talking about really is passion, how can you live inside the circle of your passion without it consuming you?

That’s what we talked about for most of the evening, sipping our wine, staring at the river, tumbleweeding around. We didn’t come up with the right answer, because there isn’t one. But Mike and I wandered home through the dark streets feeling refreshed and ready to face the windstorms of tomorrow.

After the week we’ve just weathered, maybe that’s what we need this weekend – some tumbleweeding. Or maybe a river. Or friends. Or some wine? Looks like we have options.

What about you: Do you feel like you’re living inside the circle of your passion? How do you keep from being consumed?

P.S. I could practically see the parental eye rolling in Australia when I mentioned wine (again!!). So, my beloved mother, this picture’s for you. It’s Mike, weeks ago now, disposing of the last wine we had at home because it was simply wretched stuff. The bamboo, much to my surprise, has suffered no ill effects.

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